Report: 45 sectarian conflicts resolved by customary reconciliation since 2011

In a study published on Wednesday, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that customary reconciliation assemblies have resolved 45 sectarian disputes since the January 2011 uprising until the end of 2014, adding impetus to the controversial practice and questioning the rule of law in ensuring accountability in sectarian crises.
However, the organization added that the mentioned number does not reflect all cases of sectarian violence witnessed by Egypt during the stated period.
According to the organization, this number includes only those cases, which the research team was able to document, confirming the causes, consequences and the manner of resolving the conflict, as well as to obtain statements from parties and arbiters in the reconciliation sessions.
During the period in question, according to the EIPR's study, security authorities failed to enforce the law, protect social peace and personal property, which prompted many citizens to resort to customary practices as a way to resolve disputes.
The study also does not spare judicial bodies their share of blame in that respect.
“In most cases of attacks on Coptic property, no one was prosecuted, while in cases where the offender was Christian, they were taken into custody”, it said.
“The prosecutor’s office often uses customary reconciliation as a reason to suspend criminal prosecution, in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which specifically enumerates the crimes in which such reconciliation is acceptable and dictates that other crimes must be subject to criminal prosecution,” the study added.
It said that customary sessions fail to provide decisive solutions, which would ensure that sectarian tensions never reocur. According to the organization, they offer temporary solutions instead.
“Instead of examining the roots of the problem in a local context and attempting to resolve it, they simply attempt to stop the attacks, even temporarily, without considering terms that may prevent the situation from blowing up yet again,” EIPR confirms.
The EIPR said that while it does not object to popular means of resolving disputes, it stresses that those channels should be adopted side by side with the legal track.
“These instruments should supplement various legal actions citizens are entitled to take. It is the state’s duty to ensure that these legal actions are enforced and accessible and protect those who turn to them from any infringement of their other rights,” the study explains.

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